Monday, July 09, 2007

Retiring Ridgewood...and me too!

July 9, 2007...Effective this date, the Ridgewood Foundation has ceased operations and is in the process of returning its charter to the Charities Branch. The retirement of founder and Managing Director, RP Birt was stated as the reason for closure.

The Ridgewood site and the and domains will be maintained until a suitable home for the archive has been found.

To all of those who supported the work of Ridgewood...
Thank you! RP (Bob) Birt

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Redefining the diagnostics

Redefining the diagnostics

One of the most popular models for conflict is the analogy of the Iceberg. It is used to describe the levels of conflict.

We like the image of the iceberg because it is linear, visual and has the property of having its base being below the surface…hidden. We can talk about getting below the surface to the dangerous part… the one that the Titanic discovered.

It is neat, it is clean and it is dramatic. It creates nice metaphors like topping or presenting issue or activities like chipping away at it. In its meta-message it also says “stay away from icebergs”

It is not a very complex or complicated model- in fact it assumes that everything connected with it is homogenous- ice- from top to bottom—one mass of Identity solid matter. It is quantifiable with size mass displacement.

It was a helpful image to get people to think about getting below the surface or to admit that something underlying could be a significant as what was seen.

It was an image or metaphor that fit into the System of Justice or other systems which have a need for quantification and closure. It was a way to open the door to underlying interest and to acknowledge and incorporate that into the Dispute Settlement methodology.

So why does it appear again in a different shape and form above the surface? Is it yet another iceberg with the same chemistry? Or is it the same iceberg with a new tip?

Getting below the surface does not change anything. It may transform the tip into a different mass but it does not cause the iceberg to transcend the area or metamorphose into something else… an iceberg is still an iceberg.

The essential fact is… all of us are conflict creators and all of us create waste that we do not want to deal with and in fact abdicate a great deal of the responsibility for processing it to others or to systems that are all ready over burdened.

That is why when we look at conflict as a natural human by-product and take a look at it as chemistry with different elements, that it begins to make some sense. When we look at the by-product’s energy, we can begin to draw a different model.

Not everyone is comfortable with a model that compares human conflict to human waste…a model that recognizes E.coli by another name. It is not elegant. It is pragmatic.

In a values-based process the complementary is recognized along with its differences. The differences may be reconcilable or not. There are many questions to be asked. If they must co-exist, how is that achieved without a struggle for power? Where can the receptivity be found? What has changed during the process so that it is no longer an issue? What has emerged that needs to be dealt with in new way?

Where is the future that is free from the legacy of fermentation?

Friday, September 09, 2005

Complementary Process

Complementary rather than Alternative Process

The System of Justice does not have “Alternatives”. Alternative by definition means; “The choice between two mutually exclusive possibilities”. In fact there is not a choice “in the alternative” to the system. Every resident is as bound as the Government. All are part of the whole, whether they choose to be or not. Both Government and Citizenry have rights, responsibilities and recourse.

Complementary by definition means: “Something that completes, makes up a whole, or brings to perfection. The quantity or number needed to make up a whole. Either of two parts that complete the whole or mutually complete each other.” Perhaps it is time to sit down and begin a dialogue on what is needed to make our systems work and to recognize and validate that there is wisdom that is available to all. Rather than seeking an alternative which in reality is not possible.

It is interesting that in the Western Culture’s modern era where so much emphasis has been placed on the outcomes of struggles for power or control (whether in a geo-political or social context and the attendant issues of rights) that the notion of conflict being a symptom of something which needs additional treatment, has gone largely neglected.

Rights-based issues or “disputes and settlement” preoccupy the System and consume the resources that can be allocated for conflict prevention or chronic environmental conflict.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Symptomatic Conflict

If one was alone on an island would there be conflict?

What if another Person was added, and another and another? How would the nature of the conflict change? Would all of the conflict that was present when one was alone disappear?

It would appear that whether one or more people are involved, conflict is present. Conflict is a natural human by-product.

Conflict is certainly one of the most powerful and abundant forces in life. There never seems to be a shortage of it, and its impact is felt constantly… whether one is aware of it or not.

Symptomatic Conflict is a manifestation of the legacy and the by-products of untreated conflict. It is often seen as reoccurring disputes or retributive actions. People involved in the conflict seek recognition and validation for their positions, adding to its infectious nature.

Since there isn't an inoculation or medication that can cure it, how is it treated. Should treatment only go so far as to eliminate the symptoms or should the treatment address the cause?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

CBCR Convention

It is an era of change. The "system" can not seem to keep pace with the growing cultural diversity and changing values of our societies. New "protocols" are being defined and redefined by the change we experience. With all of this diversity, what is it that we can all agree on? How do we work together? How can we resolve differences?

How can we work out disputes? How do we move forward together? How do we maintain our independence and individuality?

Can we find a common denominator? A set of core values? That is the challenge and opportunity.

The Ridgewood Foundation, through a ten year dialogue process, has put forward a CBCR Convention Statement. It gives direction, as well as shape and form, to the CBCR “Protocol Processes”. It is as follows:

Through this Convention we declare that: as part of their Natural Equity, peoples should be entrusted with the responsibility and the means to resolve their conflicts through peaceful and cooperative processes.

We further affirm, that these Protocols, Processes and Rules, embody cardinal principles and values such as; Dignity, Respect, Honor and Trust.

Furthermore, we submit that the means and resources to effect resolution be viewed as an equal priority by all Governments and Societies as are the formal Systems of; Justice, Law Enforcement, Education, Health and Defense.

Friday, February 04, 2005

CBCR Protocol

CBCR Protocol is simply the process by which parties reach agreement as to how to settle their differences or resolve a conflict. It places the responsibility for reaching agreement on the parties. The process can be lead by a "Neutral" Process Leader or implemented by the parties themselves.

Moving from a “rights-based”, “top down" and "expert-driven system” into the area of CBCR, requires the retrofitting of many established resolution processes and innovation as well.

A key strategy is the use of a “Protocol Process” framed by the CBCR Convention. The advantage or benefit of the “Protocol Process” is its “developmental and dynamic” nature. It has the capacity to include new ideas and enhancements. It can respect differences in beliefs and values.

Development of CBCR Protocols share a lot in common with the process of creating software for computers. Different interests and priorities must be balanced without creating a "clash" or "crash". It is crucial to discover ways for resources and power to be allocated and shared.

The vision is to build on the model of the “open source community" embodied in the development of "GPL" (General Public License) computer software. This approach has encouraged contributions from people all over the world. It has expanded through workgroups and collaboration utilizing the internet. It has created a workable model of how synergy can be applied to development while providing a framework (or protocol) for usage by large institutional or individual users/contributors.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Community-Based Conflict Resolution

Community-Based Conflict Resolution (CBCR) has come of age. It is now often referred to by its abbreviation.

CBCR can be confused with "community mediation" or just an "alternative to litigation".

It is effective for a wide range of applications. CBCR is a principle-based paradigm. It is framed by principles and methods that define a distinct approach to resolving conflict.

"Community-Based" means that it is to be based on, and respond to the needs of people, especially in times of uncertainty or tension.

CBCR was built on the premise that the communities... where we live, where we work and where we interact... are the "sum" of many different values and identities, i.e. age, gender, ability, race, culture and power. To resolve conflict, the resolution must include as much of that "sum" as possible.

When conflict occurs, it is not enough to simply "prescribe" or "impose" a solution. "Fixing" a problem often leads to long cycles of festering Legacy-Based Conflict.

The ownership of the conflict and the choices related to its outcome are vested in the participants. The processes for settlement and resolution must evolve from the participants.

CBCR's primary objective is the resolution of conflict through creating an environment of dignity and respect, which welcomes interaction and settlements that foster trust and honour.